Comic Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 4: Good Night Gotham

Published: November 6th, 2018
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Dexter Soy

DC Comics, 184 Pages

Review:

Good Night Gotham is a pivotal story arc in the Red Hood and the Outlaws series post-Rebirth. It is the story where Red Hood crosses a line and is kicked out of Gotham City by his former mentor and friend, Batman. The line he crossed was shooting Penguin in the face on live television.

Following this story, Red Hood went off on his own, once again, and the comic was then simply re-titled Red Hood: Outlaw.

What does kind of suck, is that I really enjoyed the trio that made up Red Hood’s Outlaws team. Along with Red Hood, you had Artemis and Bizarro, who throughout this title’s run, was actually a super genius. Well, a super genius with a catch, as he struggled to maintain his intelligence and feared reverting back to the lummox that he once was. Bizarro’s journey throughout this series has been great and we sadly see it come to an end for now, as Jason Todd a.k.a. the Red Hood, is forced to move on and his allies are stuck dealing with their own new problem.

This has consistently been one of my favorite DC Comics series that has come out in recent years. I’ve always loved Jason Todd and I feel like he was well represented in this book. This volume brings things to a new level of badass and Todd taps back into the hard edge that he’s been missing lately.

I love the art in this series but it’s the writing that has really yanked me in and kept me invested. In fact, I want to go back and read the three volumes before this one, once again, as it just hit all the right notes for me.

I also loved the story here between Red Hood and the Penguin and it was nice seeing the Penguin as a sinister presence, as opposed to the mostly lame side character he has been now for years. He feels like a true villain and a formidable foe, something that he hasn’t been for quite some time.

Good Night Gotham is high octane end of an era for the character of Red Hood, his team and also a good way to kick off the next phase of his life.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Red Hood and the Outlaws collections post-Rebirth. Also, the recent Bat-family titles: NightwingBatgirl and also the current runs on Suicide Squad and Deathstroke.

Film Review: Punisher: War Zone (2008)

Also known as: The Punisher 2, The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank (working titles)
Release Date: December 4th, 2008 (United Arab Emirates)
Directed by: Lexi Alexander
Written by: Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, Nick Santora
Based on: The Punisher by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, John Romita Sr.
Music by: Michael Wandmacher
Cast: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Colin Salmon, Doug Hutchinson, Dash Mihok, Wayne Knight

Valhalla Motion Pictures, MHF Zweite Academy Film, SGF Entertainment Inc, Lionsgate Films, Marvel Studios 103 Minutes

Review:

“God be with you, Frank.” – Priest, “Sometimes I would like to get my hands on God.” – Frank Castle

Well, my memory of this film was better than what it actually is now that I’ve seen it again, ten years later.

It has a big problem and really, it’s that it’s boring. Yeah, the action stuff is pretty damn good and badass but all the filler in-between is just uninteresting and really f’n derivative.

Now I do like Stevenson as Frank Castle. I think he looks the part more than any other actor who has been in the role. However, he’s missing the charm of Thomas Jane even if he makes up for it with a much needed harder edge. I mean, I also liked Dolph Lundgren’s version of Frank Castle but that 1989 movie really wasn’t up to snuff and he didn’t even have a skull on his chest.

The only real problem with Stevenson and it’s not his fault, is that he is just very one-dimensional. But the script was written without Frank Castle feeling all that human. But I get it, even in the comics he’s typically a quiet badass that doesn’t let people into his orbit on any sort of emotional level. I just feel that the character, in a cinematic sense, should fall somewhere between Ray Stevenson and Thomas Jane. And that’s something that probably needed to be done at the script level.

Lexi Alexander did fine behind the camera from a visual standpoint and also handled the action sequences nicely. The big battle in the hotel at the end was fun to watch and that early scene where the Punisher murders the mob in their mansion was fantastic. Granted, spinning upside down from a chandelier was a bit stupid, as one of the thugs outside of his line of sight could’ve got in a head shot. Unless the mob has the accuracy of Star Wars Stormtroopers.

This movie just makes me sad though. It had the makings of something that could have been a great Punisher film but it fell flat in just about every regard outside of the action. Plus it had parkour in it, which is just a silly form of freestyle walking. I respect the athleticism but people pushing for it to be an Olympic sport need a lobotomy.

Anyway, if you just want a lot of awesome and senseless violence, this will be right up your alley. Unfortunately, you spend a lot of time waiting around for it between those high octane scenes.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: The other Punisher movies from 1989 and 2004, as well as the current TV show.

Comic Review: Justice League Dark: The Last Days of Magic

Published: July 25th, 2018 – September 26th, 2018
Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson

DC Comics, 79 Pages

Review:

Man, this series is a lot of fun and this short, three issue arc was a great kicoff to this new version of the Justice League Dark team.

This squad consists of new leader Wonder Woman, as well as John Constantine, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Man Bat and Detective Chimp. Doctor Fate is also involved but there is a twist to his involvement. By the end of this arc, I’m not sure if he’s going to be a member of this team or not.

These first three issues of Justice League Dark serve to set up a crossover event called The Witching Hour, which just started. It’s a crossover between the regular Wonder Woman comic and Justice League Dark and sees Princess Diana gain some pretty powerful magical abilities that she’s never had before.

I love how dark and how fun this series is. I bought it because I liked the team and every member in it. Granted, I think Man Bat comes off as dumber than he should be, I mean, he’s a brilliant f’n scientist. But I love all these characters and it seems like a really cool and fresh angle for Wonder Woman. I like seeing her tap into the magical parts of her existence. I also like the stuff that was added to her backstory here.

I really dig the new villain that comes out in the third and final issue of the story. He’s creepy as hell but just freaky and badass enough to make things really interesting. Plus, his power level, as far as one can tell from this story, is pretty damn incredible. But this also leads to Wonder Woman evolving into something beyond her own power level. Is this leading to a Dark Phoenix sort of saga for Wonder Woman? It very well could but I don’t want to ruin this for those who want to read it.

James Tynion IV has written a damn fine and damn fun comic book story. I hope that this maintains its great momentum going forward, as it’s one of my favorite comic books being put out by DC, right now.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: The Witching Hour crossover that follows and the original Justice League Dark series.

Comic Review: X-Men: Grand Design

Published: October 4th, 2017 – January 3rd, 2018
Written by: Ed Piskor
Art by: Ed Piskor

Marvel Comics, 92 Pages

Review:

X-Men lore is so massive that a series like this is actually pretty necessary for modern fans who don’t know all the details of the older X-Men stories and how things led to where the franchise is now.

X-Men: Grand Design is a fabulous series that goes through the entire history of the X-Men team.

The first Grand Design series was comprised of two 46 page comics. The second series is also broken out over two issues but this is about the original run, which covered the original X-Men team, mainly comprised of Cyclops, the original Ms. Marvel (Jean Grey), Beast, Iceman and Angel.

This comic moves very briskly, as it hits every major storyline in the comic’s original run. We see the origins of all the key players, heroes and villains. We also see how the Sentinels came to be and the formation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, as well as all the hoopla surrounding the arrival of the Phoenix Force.

Ed Piskor did an incredible job of writing this and mapping out the story so well. Everything just flows and it is perfectly accented by his old school pulp-like artwork.

I know these stories but even I don’t remember every single chapter of X-Men history. For old fans and new fans, this really is a must own and a must read. If anything, it just tapped into nostalgia pretty strongly and it has made me want to go back and read some of the classic story arcs.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: It’s sequel X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis.

Comic Review: The Flash: Rebirth

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver

DC Comics, 158 Pages

Review:

I love Geoff Johns work at DC Comics and I have always loved his collaborations with artist Ethan Van Sciver. Their work on Green Lantern got me back into comics during a time when I had sort of faded away from the medium due to no longer being as engaged by it.

Green Lantern: Rebirth was one of my favorite comic book stories of all-time. It made me love Hal Jordan and I was pulled in by Johns’ writing and Van Sciver’s wonderful art. Since I also liked Johns’ Flash stuff, I figured that The Flash: Rebirth would be something that I would also love. But sadly, it just didn’t do it for me.

The biggest problem that I have with Flash stories is the damn Speed Force. Also, in recent years, the Flash pocket of the larger DC universe is overloaded with too many characters with the same lame set of powers. There are so many damn speedsters that it’s really f’n redundant.

In an era where people are screaming for diversity, even though it has existed in comics for decades, maybe there should be a call for diversity in powers in the Flash titles. I mean, if you’re going to cram a dozen heroes and villains into a plot, why are they all similar? And why is that exciting? And to be frank, this is why I lost interest in The Flash TV show, which I loved when it started.

Anyway, the art in this is damn good but Van Sciver hits the right note stylistically speaking when it comes to how this era of DC felt. He was a premiere architect in DC’s visual style from 2007-2014 or so. This book lives up to the standard one should expect from his work but apart from that, there wasn’t much here for me to enjoy.

The premiere villain is the Reverse Flash, another f’n speedster. And really, this is all about the weird, mystical Speed Force that is capable of anything a writer needs it to do. I don’t know, Speed Force heavy stories bore me to tears and they’re hard to keep up with because it’s all pseudo-science mumbo jumbo made up on a whim to explain random ass shit. I prefer stories where one Flash takes on one of his many awesome rogues that aren’t speedsters.

This is probably really good if reading about a dozen speedsters and Speed Force stuff is your thing. For me, it numbed my brain and made it hard to get through.

And fuck… this had so many damn cameos. I felt like it partially existed just to wedge in as many characters as possible.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: The Geoff Johns era of The Flash, as well as his era of Green Lantern.

Retro Relapse: The Great American Pussification

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015 but resurrected because people are still fake-offended snowflakes.

I use the word “pussification” because there is no better term. If you are offended, you are a victim of pussification. And frankly, you’re not really offended, you just think that you’re supposed to be.

But no, I am not calling pussies weak. I’ve encountered many that are very strong. Female pussies, I mean. Male pussies, are very weak. And it isn’t to say that I am calling women lesser than men, this is to say.. oh, you know what? Fuck it, I’m not explaining myself to a bunch of easily offended pussies. Just hit the back button now if you are already uncomfortable or take it to Twitter where you can bitch and moan behind the safety of blocking and only converse with other pussies that agree with you in an effort to get fantasy brownie points for a scoreboard that doesn’t exist.

Additionally, I don’t use the word “wussies” because that is how pussies say “pussies”.

The Great Pussification of America began a long time ago. It is a movement that has succeeded, as every generation since World War II has fallen victim to this bullshit epidemic. It keeps getting worse as the years go on. No, I am not talking about gay people or transgenders or any of that, if you want to be gay or change your sex, I don’t give a shit. In fact, those who deal with the assholes who come against them because they fear people different than themselves, you are a thousand times stronger and more courageous than the douchebags you have to constantly deal with. In fact, you are pillars of non-pussification. How about that, bible thumpers a.k.a. Jesus pussies?

This morning I read about an elementary school that banned a Wonder Woman lunchbox. This is the note they sent home to the parents:

Okay, this is the lunchbox that they found so offensive:

This is a prime example of the Pussification of America.

That actually seems like a pretty awesome lunchbox featuring a powerful hero for girls to look up to. Of course, the note says, “We have defined ‘violent characters’ as those who solve problems using violence. Super heroes certainly fall into that category.”

Uh, okay. Obviously, the school doesn’t know jack shit about most superheroes and they also have bad fucking grammar, as “superheroes” doesn’t have a space in it. This sounds like the worst group of educators ever and they also look like giant fucking pussies.

This is how the public school system, many parents and other adult groups of “evolved socially conscious” dickwads are. They’re pussies coddling children to the point that kids can’t develop the necessary skills and life experience needed to face adversity and challenges head on. A generation, actually, several generations of these kids are growing and entering the world as adults – adults who cannot function like adults.

Another huge example of pussification is participation trophies.

Kudos to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Harrison who threw his kid’s participation trophies in the garbage. Why? Because his kid didn’t earn them. They were given to him just for participating.

What kind of liberal bullshit helicopter parent coddling parade is this? What is the point of striving to be the best if you get a prize regardless? But these fuckwits don’t want anyone to be the best, they want everyone to be in the bottom of the soft, cuddly, safe septic tank, knee deep in their bullshit.

When I grew up, I didn’t get trophies for participating. I got them for winning (or coming in second or third). I didn’t cry that I didn’t get a trophy if I wasn’t the best. In fact, I never expected to be the best at everything. I knew that I had to win to get the prize and if I wanted the prize, I had to work for it. Sometimes, even then, there was someone who was better at a challenge than I was. This is how life works.

You wake up, you attack the day, you do your best. Often times, someone does better. People have different strengths and weaknesses. Giving a trophy to everyone rewards weakness. The world, the real world that we all live in regardless of rose colored glasses and over sensitivity, does not reward weakness. If you teach small children the opposite, the world will smack them in the face hard and they won’t be prepared for it. We all see this happen every single fucking day but some chose to play the victim and blame those who succeed.

If you want that trophy, work for it. If you can’t get it, you know that what you are trying to achieve might be out of reach and then move on to find something you’re better at. Childhood is a trial period before adulthood. It isn’t a continuation of infancy. Kids have to fail, they have to sometimes have bad experiences, this is how they learn and adapt to a world that isn’t always their friend. To ignore this fact is asinine.

Everyone wants their kid to win. But shouldn’t people want their kid to win at the big picture that is life? So what, they are batting 8th on their Little League team. One day, they may change the world with a Fortune 500 company if you don’t coddle them into being a huge pussy afraid of risk versus reward.

In regards to all this anti-bullying stuff that’s popular now, I hate bullies. I fucking loathe them, actually. But are adults wasting too much time on teaching kids to tattle on bullies instead of focusing on helping them develop confidence, brass balls and the skills to handle their own problems?

I’m not saying that adults shouldn’t step in if things get out of hand but to some degree, a child needs to learn how to stand up against an asshole because they will face many more in life. Also, this teaches the kids to always rely on authority and not themselves. Relying on authority usually comes with a pretty shitty outcome.

And nowadays, the things that are considered “bullying” are fucking laughable. Expressing a different opinion is “bullying” in 2018. This article, by many, even though I single no one out, is probably considered “bullying”.

So, do you want your child equipped to properly handle adulthood? Or do you want them to be a crybaby bitch scared of jerks, living at home at twenty-seven with a bedroom full of participation ribbons?

I hate helicopter parents. If you don’t know what they are, Google it. The problem is that there are so many nowadays. I deal with the ramifications of it on a daily basis, working with younger people. And I’m only thirty-six, I’m not that old.

However, this millennial generation has been coddled to death. They are leaving college, entering the workforce and many of them can’t handle a normal amount of daily adversity and challenges. They shutdown, call their parents and panic. They also don’t have good problem solving or time management skills. They need that parental figure to constantly push them and they need constant validation and acceptance. They don’t understand work relationships versus friendship. They also don’t understand why not everyone gets raises and aren’t asked to participate in certain projects. They’re a lost generation that expect the world to be easy and for their hand to be held at all times.

Granted, I have met many younger people who are the antithesis of this. I am not saying that it effects every millennial-aged person but it is still large enough to be an epidemic. There just don’t seem to be enough of the good ones.

So, is the future bright when we are going to have adult-sized toddlers running the show?

But who am I? I’m just some insensitive asshole that hates kids according to helicopter parents and overly-invested, overly-sensitive teachers. But I don’t give a shit what they think about me, I just give a shit about what they’re doing to the future.

Comic Review: House of M

Published: February 1st, 2006
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Oliver Coipel

Marvel Comics, 280 Pages

Review:

This picks up after the events that happened in Avengers: Disassembled. This story also has effects that will go on to be felt in Marvel’s Civil War event, as well as X-Men: The Messiah Complex.

So following the tragic events of Avengers: Disassembled, the Avengers and the X-Men meet to discuss the fate of the Scarlet Witch. Wolverine leads the charge pretty much calling for her death, as the potential for what she can do with her powers is too great. Other Avengers and X-Men disagree but ultimately, you get the idea that this is going to go somewhere really friggin’ dark.

After that, Wolverine wakes up in an alternate reality and is aware that he’s not where he’s supposed to be, even though all of his allies are buying into the mystical charade. Wolverine has to go against his friends, search for answers and has to convince his allies that something happened that completely changed reality.

In the end, the Scarlet Witch only leaves like ten percent of the mutants in the world with their powers intact. So Wolverine saves the day, essentially, but the Scarlet Witch with her insane powers is still a crazy bitch.

This story was a cool idea but it didn’t really move forward in a way that excited me. Granted, I wasn’t too fond of Avengers: Disassemble, which lead to this.

This is one of the big Marvel stories of the ’00s and it is certainly better than the schlock they are synonymous with now but it still pales in comparison to the great epics that came before this. Don’t get me wrong, Marvel has some events that were duds in the old days too but this book just missed the mark and frankly, it could have been longer and probably needed to be, as the pace was insanely quick.

I really enjoyed Oliver Coipel’s art, though.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Avengers: DisassembledThe Messiah Complex, also it has ramifications that carry over into the Civil War event.